Summer break is a time to relax, have fun, and enjoy these lazy days. Students are given a break to spend more time with family and friends, go on vacations, and discover something new. As your child’s first teacher, you should be aware that not participating in any learning activities over the summer might cause the dreaded summer slide.
The U.S. Department of Education defines the summer slide as the loss of learning that takes place during the summer months when children are not engaged in educational activities.
You may think, “how much learning could possibly be lost over a few summer months?” Over 100 years of research shared by the National Summer Learning Institute suggests that score two to three months lower on the same standardized test given at the end of summer compared to the beginning of summer vacation. After a few summers, those months can easily add up to a loss of one school year.
So what can you do to reverse or prevent this anticipated loss? Good news: there are many options available for you and your child. Remember to focus on their interests and having fun while they learn during summer vacation.
Your local library is a great place to start. Many libraries have summer reading programs to encourage students to read over the summer. Kids usually receive a reward at the end of the program based on the number of books they read.
Encourage your child to choose a book he or she enjoys reading, and not the one you want your child to read. Turn to a page in a book and use the Five Finger Rule for mistakes while your child reads as a guide: 0 – 1 = too easy; 2 - 3 = perfect choice; 4 = okay to try with an adult; 5+ = too hard.
Cooking is a fun way to incorporate reading, math, and art into a learning activity. The reading part comes with following the recipe, which makes the dish taste delicious. Have your child—the chef of the day—read instructions aloud as you act as his or her assistant.
The math is the measurement part of the recipe. Instead of using 1 cup, use 1/3 cup (pour three 1/3 cups into 1 cup) to show that they are equal.
Children can show artistic skills when plating and presenting the meal.
Hobbies are the perfect opportunities for reading and learning. If your child shows an interest in a particular topic, suggest he or she learn more about those activities. For example, if your child is interested in swimming, read about how to become a better swimmer, convert laps in pool meters into miles, or learn about famous swimmers.
Already planned a vacation? Create before, during, and after vacation activities. Read brochures or books together before you leave. While on vacation, point out locations and cultural qualities that you learned about in those reading materials. During the vacation or upon your return, encourage your child to write about the activities in a summer adventure journal.
Enjoy your summer of learning and relaxing. Your child has many resources available to prevent any learning loss. With these tips, the only summer slide your child will ride is at the local playground or amusement park.
What other lessons do you incorporate throughout the summer to keep your child’s skills sharp? Tell me in the comments below.
Looking for more ways to improve your child’s learning experience outside of school? Pick up a copy of YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher on Amazon.
Sandra Braceful-Quarles is an educator, community liaison, and tutor working in the south suburbs of Chicago. As an active member of her worship community, she is passionate about giving back and volunteering to help others. She and her husband have three children and two grandchildren.